Image of senior woman with a mask looking wistfully out a door

The rebound in census that skilled nursing operators saw before the delta variant could be closer to returning since COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations among facilities are on a path toward decline.

Updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents decreased for a fourth straight week since peaking again during the late summer and early fall. The findings come as research recently found that better control of community COVID-19 spread can help mitigate severe COVID-19 outbreaks that have been experienced by nursing home facilities during the pandemic. 

The CDC reported Wednesday that there were 3,542 confirmed cases among residents last week, and case counts have steadily declined since providers reported 5,354 confirmed cases in mid-September. 

The agency also reported 514 COVID-related deaths among residents for the week. The lowest since 646 related-deaths was reported in mid-September. 

Providers had been making steady progress to recover census after conducting initial vaccination clinics in early 2021 until the delta variant hit during the summer. But things are finally starting to build back, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, recently explained.

“If we can get back to the trajectory we were on before delta, we could end the year in the 75% range. The sector wouldn’t be back to complete health, but we’d be at the point where we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Parkinson said.